BANGKOK: The Prime Minister had a busy day on Monday with unconfirmed press reports hinted that a big announcement was in the offing. On Sunday, a Super Poll survey suggested the coronavirus was not the biggest issue on the minds of the public but the ongoing drought, another headache for the beleaguered government leader.

An opposition MP has baldly called on the Thai prime minister to resign. It follows reports on Sunday that the governing party has reached out to protesting student leaders and on the day that Thailand’s business confidence index hit a 9 year low in the midst of what is still a growing crisis driven by the Chinese coronavirus, Covid 19.

The Pheu Thai MP for Nakhon Phanom Chavalit Vichayasuthi (inset right) has baldly called on Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha (centre) to resign on the day that business sentiment in Thailand is reported to have plunged to a nine-year low. On Monday, government spokeswoman and fellow MP Narumon Pinyosinwat (inset right) fielded questions about a big announcement from the prime minister.

Just days after the Thai government won a series of votes of confidence in the House Of Representatives and amid the coronavirus emergency, Pheu Thai MP Chavalit Vichayasuthi has called on the prime minister Prayut Chan ocha to resign from office.

Chavalit Vichayasuthi made the comments in the context of an olive branch offered to protesting students on Sunday by the Energy Minister and Secretary-General of the Palang Pracharat Party Sontirat Sonthichirawong.

Mr Chavalit, the MP for Nakhon Phanom, said on Monday that General Prayut had led the government now for six years since the 2014 coup and had lost all credibility.

‘The last straw was the dictatorship in disguise of democracy,’ Chavalit claimed on Monday. ‘The only solution is the resignation of Gen Prayut Chan ocha.’

Criticised the Prime Minister for failing to sow the seeds of reconciliation in his six-year rule

Mr Chavalit criticised the PM for failing to sow the seeds of reconciliation during his years in power and insisted that his failures in office concerning the economy, society and in managing Thailand’s foreign affairs had left young people frustrated.

Business confidence at the lowest level since 2011

The comments by the MP come as economic data published on Monday shows Thailand’s Business Sentiment Index at the lowest levels in nearly a decade. Not since the disastrous flooding of 2011, which shut down large swathes of the manufacturing economy, has sentiment gone lower.

Virus impact is taking on historical proportions

The index declined in February from 48.5 to 44.1. The reason for the sharp decline, of course, is the Covid 19 coronavirus outbreak which is increasingly taking on historical implications as developed economies are now falling into its grasp and the prospect of a world recession grows increasingly likely.

Businesses are hard pressed but say they still can find funding from cashflow financial institutions

Digging behind the numbers in the survey shows that Thai businesses are even now still finding the impact of the coronavirus rising and not abating as orders fall. The virus continues to spread across the world from the initial Chinese epicentre causing anxiety for Thailand export-led firms.

Thai business leaders report that they are facing increasingly tighter financial liquidity but significantly, they expressed confidence that financial funding was available at this time from cashflow and financial institutions.

The data showed a drop across the board in confidence in transportation and tourist-related industries as the country’s tourism industry leaders await government stimulus proposals.

Super poll shows the virus is not the public’s biggest concern across Thailand as farmers suffer drought

Meanwhile, on Sunday, a Super Poll finding found that the Thai public across the country is also very concerned about the Convid 19 virus.

A massive 89.2% of them said it was an issue of great concern. However, it was not the biggest issue on the minds of the public across Thailand as a whole.

That issue was the ongoing drought, another huge challenge for the embattled and beleaguered Thai government. 89.7% of people rated this issue as the most pressing problem while nearly 70% were concerned about their economic situation and the country overall.

The study was based on a sample of over 1,050 and presented by Assistant Professor Dr Noppadon Kannika, the Director of Super Poll Research

A day in the life of a PM under pressure

On Monday, the Thai government spokeswoman, Narumon Pinyosinwat, fielded press questions after reports and rumours spread that Monday would see a big announcement by the government.

Instead, she could only confirm to the media that the prime minister attended a meeting at the Department of Defence to discuss army appointments and the readiness of the army to implement the government’s planned Phase 3 response in the event of an uncontrolled virus outbreak.

The PM was also reported to be working on measures to strengthen the country’s defence against the virus with cabinet colleagues and chaired a meeting on the ongoing drought which is having a severe effect on Thai agriculture.

Opposition to strengthen its onslaught

It all comes only a few days after the Thai prime minister decisively won a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives by 272 votes to 49 on Friday.

On Monday however, the opposition announced that it was carrying on its battle in parliament against the prime minister and five of his ministers due to their its failure to manage the timeline allotted to them in last week’s no-confidence debate in which they failed to attack two senior government ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and the Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda.

There have been calls among the opposition for MPs on that side of the political divide to co-operate more effectively and to involve the public outside parliament in an ongoing debate on the government’s performance.

Further reading:

Government adopts a carrot and stick approach to student protests with the first coronavirus death in Thailand

MPs warned of an economic colony as opposition zeroed in on Thailand’s impaired relationship with China

Bank of Thailand says it has more scope as the economy is left reeling from biting coronavirus setback

Government already in fire fighting mode yet it retains its core support according to the latest NIDA poll